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SEVA (Special Education Volunteer Advocates)

Goal: SEVA will provide a means for systemic change by enhancing supports available to families seeking quality inclusion and effective transition services so children with disabilities can become more independent, productive, contributing, and included members of their community.  Objectives: With the support of trained parent volunteers at IEP and related meetings: (a) Parents can communicate more effectively with Child Study Team members because they have learned more effective communication strategies (skill development), they are more knowledgeable about special education rights and processes and research related to the positive impact of inclusive education and effective transition to adult life services (increase in knowledge), and their self-confidence and self-efficacy has been increased (capacity-building). (b) Parents and Child Study Team members learn strategies to “create agreement” and avoid or resolve conflict related to the IEP/special education services. Major activities: (a) Develop a curriculum, handouts, and activities with stakeholder input and feedback. (b) Recruit and train at least 2 classes of diverse parent volunteers in the first year and three classes each subsequent year. (c) Develop and use a marketing plan in multiple languages to inform families of services. (d) Develop and use protocols to assign trained volunteers to families. (e) Support volunteers as they support families. (f) Work with evaluator to measure processes and outcomes (g) Develop a sustainability plan.

SEVA helps by:

-Enhancing the capacity of SPAN Resource Parents to serve as volunteer supports for families in preparing for and at IEP meetings focused on inclusion and effective transition to adult life

-Increasing the number of underserved families who can be provided with in-person support

-Building the knowledge and skills of families and youth, particularly those facing the greatest challenges, to advocate on their own behalf to secure effective inclusion and transition to adult life.

SEVA is funded by:

New Jersey Council on Developmental Disabilities

US Department of Education Office of Special Education Programs (SPAN Resource Parent comprehensive training series)

Jeannette Mejias
SEVA Project Director
Michele Tyler
SEVA Family Engagement Facilitator & Administrative Coordinator
What families/professions are saying about this project: 

"SEVA is a Sanskrit word meaning “selfless service.” In ancient India, “seva” was believed to help one’s own growth and contribute to the improvement of the community.  SEVA describes the actions that seek collective uplifting through the understanding of the needs of, and a genuine desire to uplift, others and are based on togetherness and integration. It is service infused with kindness and respect for those served.  It is a fitting title for this project."  Jeannette Mejias, Project Director

Key Resources of Interest: 


Title: SPAN Resource Parent Comprehensive Training Series

Description:  SPAN Training for Resource Parents

Link to specific resource in Resource section:

Title: SEVA Volunteer Advocate Outreach Flyer (English & Spanish)

Description: SEVA Volunteer Advocate Outreach Flyer


TItle: SEVA (Special Education Volunteer Advocates) Logic Model

Description: The Logic Model for the SEVA Project






SEVA Project Staff:

Carolyn Hayer & Maria Docherty, PTI Co-Directors & SEVA Project Managers

Jeannette Mejias, SEVA Project Director

Michele Tyler, SEVA Family Engagement Facilitator & Administrative Coordinator

Nicole Pratt, SEVA Family Engagement Facilitator

Lauren Agoratus, SEVA Curriculum Developer

Martha Brecher & Renay Zamloot, Project Consultants